BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Monitoring: Media reports
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Tuesday, 27 February, 2001, 14:29 GMT
Kuchma rejects Ukraine murder claims
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma
Kuchma strongly denies the opposition allegations
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has responded to accusations of his involvement in the murder of a journalist by calling for justice for the true perpetrators of the crime.

In any country, the death of a journalist is a major tragedy... Those responsible for this death should be brought to justice

Leonind Kuchma in the FT
In an open letter to London's Financial Times newspaper, Mr Kuchma offers his "deepest condolences" to the family of the dead man, whose headless body was finally identified on Monday, four months after it was found in woods near the capital, Kiev.

"I was not acquainted with [Georgiy] Gongadze but was certainly aware of the articles he wrote criticising my policies," the letter says.

But Mr Kuchma stresses he was by no means the government's most "vicious" critic and the death "although tragic, is not grounds for my political adversaries to accuse me of murder".

Screen grab of FT article
Kuchma's letter follows confirmation of Gongadze's death
Ukrainian prosecutors began a murder investigation into the death on Tuesday following their belated confirmation that the body belonged to the missing journalist.

Correspondents say there has been a marked change in the pace of action by the authorities who have been criticised by the European Union and the US over the affair.

Accusations of involvement against Mr Kuchma stem from a tape allegedly including his voice ordering officials to "get rid of" Mr Gongadze.

The case has snowballed into the former Soviet state's worst political scandal, which correspondents say threatens to damage investment prospects in the country.

National security threat

Mr Kuchma says the death has been turned into a "political weapon designed to destabilise Ukraine" by his political adversaries.

Anti-Kuchma demonstrators carry clubs after police told to clear the streets
The president likened opposition demonstrators to Nazis
"Even an unbiased observer can see that the provocation against me was made just when the Ukrainian economy started to emerge from crisis," he says in his FT letter.

Western banking sources quoted on Tuesday said the letter came as Ukrainian debt, the main barometer of outside interest in the country in the absence of serious foreign investment, has been badly hit by the scandal.

The president has said repeatedly that the situation threatens Ukraine's national security.

Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Kiev in recent weeks, demanding Mr Kuchma's resignation, but he has dismissed them as troublemakers and "Nazis".

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

19 Sep 00 | Media reports
Outspoken Ukraine journalist missing
19 Feb 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Ukraine's air of unrest
23 Feb 01 | Europe
Ukraine seeks FBI help
14 Feb 01 | Media reports
Ukraine's leaders appeal to the nation
29 Nov 00 | Media reports
Death, lies and audiotape - Ukraine-style
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Media reports stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Media reports stories